Can you lose weight with better sleep?1. When you sleep your hormones are reset under the guidance of the key regulating hormone, melatonin from the pineal gland. With stress our adrenal glands release more cortisol, which weakens our immune system and may be responsible for you catching the flu. Chronic stress and the associated cortisol increase can cause high blood pressure.
2. Inadvertently you may also eat a bit more rich food; a lot of people do that as food can be used as comfort food. And why do you sleep less well? Chronic cortisol elevation leads to lower melatonin levels, as these two hormones are natural opponents. A high melatonin level leads to a low cortisol level and vice versa. With relaxation methods you can lower cortisol and the melatonin level increases normalizing your sleep. Chronically elevated cortisol can also lead to weight gain as sugar is converted into fatty acids that are stored as subcutaneous fat. Muscles can melt down when cortisol is high giving the appearance of spindly arms and legs. In Cushing syndrome there is a body with weight gain, but spindly arms and legs: Cushing syndrome. A lack of progesterone in a woman approaching menopause can lead to sleep problems. Bioidentical progesterone replacement can remedy this.
3. To answer you question about your friend: yes, she could have gained weight because of sleep deprivation, but she may also have eaten fast convenience foods too rich in sugar and fat. In addition she should have her thyroid hormones (T4, TSH) measured to rule out hypothyroidism, which can make you also gain weight.
4. Normalizing sleep patterns is certainly a good step in the right direction. A regular workout at a gym would help as well to burn up calories and to normalize hormones. Monitoring the overall sugar and fat intake is also something worthwhile doing.